A report on the benefits of having young trustees, produced by the Charities Aid Foundation, has found that a diverse board can result in increased flexibility, greater scrutiny and better informed decision making.
The report, released today, follows on from recommendations which came from the Growing Giving Parliamentary Inquiry, where a cross-party group of MPs urged charities to help young people access leadership roles.
It was produced by CAF, alongside Leon Ward, a 23-year-old who is a trustee of aid charity Plan International UK and sexual health charity Brook, and aims to show how young trustees can benefit charity trustee boards, and providing tips to overcome challenges faced by young people who are interested in becoming trustees.
John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: "Charities would benefit from tapping into the potential of young people, the majority of whom would consider becoming a trustee.
“Existing charity trustees should seek out and nurturing charity leaders of the future, and this guide is our contribution to that effort.
“This is the path to ensuring the UK’s most vital and valued charities organisations are in safe hands for generations to come. Surely we can move on from current practice where the average age of British trustees is 57.”
The guide highlights benefits of having young trustees on charity boards, which it found from taking evidence from organisations who currently do so. Other benefits it suggests include “challenging a disconnect that can exist between board members and beneficiaries”.
It says a diverse range of trustees can help ensure a charity is “fair and transparent in their operations” and is providing appropriate strives, communications and staff support.
Another benefit is that it can it can increase public confidence in an organisation, by having a range of people represented on boards. Young people also often have the skills that charities can struggle with, including designing new fundraising products for a younger audience, using digital, campaigning and communications.
There are also benefits for the young people involved. These include developing new skills, enhancing their CV, and networking opportunities.
The report includes suggestions on how to recruit new trustees, and case studies from charities who currently benefit from them.
Paula Sussex, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “A board’s strength lies in its collective skills and perspectives.
"To understand the charities beneficiaries properly and serve them effectively, it needs a diverse range of people from a variety of backgrounds and experience.
"Trustees should particularly consider the benefits young people can bring to the boardroom such as new talents and fresh perspective.
Ward said: "This isn't just about appointing young trustees but it is about nurturing and harnessing the talent of future givers, philanthropists, thought leaders, chief executives and charity staff.
"And it is about developing incumbent volunteers and opening the sector up to outside talent.
"This is about helping to safeguard the future of the charity sector, it's about holding a sector, that so often talks about diversity, to account. If you like, it's about 'walking the talk'."